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The Year of the Dog
Related Resources
Japanese Zodiac
The Year of the Snake
The Year of the Horse
The Year of the Sheep
The Year of the Rooster
The Year of the Wild boar
The Year of the Rat
Game: Japanese Zodiac

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Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese lunar New year falls on January 29th this year. Although the Japanese celebrate the New Year on January 1st, they use animal zodiac symbols like the Chinese. The use of animal symbols is said to have been adopted in Japan in 604, during the reign of Empress Suiko. Unlike the Western Zodiac, which is divided into 12 months, the Asian Zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is named after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar. They are called "eto" in Japanese. The year 2006 (Heisei 18-nen) is the year of the dog (inu-doshi).

The Japanese word for dog is "inu." Click here to learn the kanji character for dog. The onomatopoeia for a dog's bark is wan-wan. Like the other zodiac animals such as the snake (hebi), horse (uma) or rooster (tori), there are many expressions including the word dog.

Inu ga nishi mukya
o wa higashi
(Literally means,
"When a dog faces west,
the tail faces east.")
A matter of course.
(Literally means,
thus to die like a dog.")
Throwing away one's life, a stupid sacrifice of life.
Inu no tooboe
(Literally means,
"the howling of a dog.")
An awake dog barks from afar at a sleeping a lion.
Inu mo arukeba
bou ni ataru
A flying crow always catches something. Every dog has his day.
Inu mo kuwanai
(Literally means,
"Even a dog won't eat it.")
Kaiinu ni te o kamareru
(Literally means,
"to have one's hand bitten
by one's own dog.")
To be betrayed by one's trusted follower.
Ken'en no naka
(Literally means,
"a dog-and-monkey relationship.")
Two people who cannot get along,
a cat-and-dog life.
Inu ni rongo
(Literally means,
"To read the Analects of Confucius to a dog.")
To throw pearls before swine.

Click here to read the article, "Relationships with Animals: Dog."

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